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Auburn University President Jay Gogue says he alone made decision to hire Gene Chizik as head football coach

Auburn University President Jay Gogue says he alone made decision to hire Gene Chizik as head football coach
Thursday, December 18, 2008
CHARLES J. DEAN
News staff writer

Auburn University President Jay Gogue said Wednesday that he alone made the decision to hire Gene Chizik as the school's new head football coach, based on the recommendation of Athletics Director Jay Jacobs.

Gogue said he did not receive or seek the advice of school trustees or other key program supporters.

Chizik, the Iowa State head coach, was the only coach that Jacobs recommended and the only coach that Gogue himself interviewed, he said. Although he read news accounts of other coaches interviewed, Gogue said he never asked for or received a list of candidates who interviewed.

Gogue said he was "somewhat surprised" by the negative reaction of many Auburn fans to Chizik's hiring.

"Auburn people care deeply about this place. Coaching changes are always difficult. So, while the reaction initially surprised me a little, I would have to say looking at it now that I am not as surprised given the fact that people do care so much about the program."

Gogue called Chizik a "good person.

"I think this is a person I am comfortable with," he said.

The president, in interviewing Chizik on Saturday, said that he had three areas of concern that he wanted the coach to address.

"I was interested in his views on graduating his athletes; taking care of your kids and making sure that I don't read about them in the newspaper in terms of off-field activities; (and) making sure the NCAA rules are followed. We have 10 years of no compliance problems at Auburn.

"And I finally asked him what would be among the first things he would do as coach and he told me that he wanted to return to Iowa to say good-bye to his players. I was impressed that he wanted to go back and talk to the kids face to face. I have been places where that didn't happen."

Gogue said he set up a process to fill the job that put Jacobs at the center of the search.

"The president was not going to be involved in the search process at its initial stage. I wanted the AD and a team he knew well to go out and find the best coach we could have."

He instructed Jacobs to "do it by the book," meaning that Jacobs was to first seek and receive permission from a school's athletics director before interviewing any coach.

"Don't call a coach, don't call an agent," Gogue said.

Gogue is keenly aware of complaints in Auburn's history about trustees meddling in the administration of the university, including the hiring and firing of football coaches. He was emphatic that he did not seek or receive the opinions of trustees in this decision.

"Not a single call with any advice or counsel was made to me," Gogue said.

He and Chizik did not discuss any pre-conditions for the hire, such as hiring any particular assistant coaches, Gogue said.

We're all just trying to have a good time here. Don't be a jerk, and we won't have a problem with you. War Eagle!

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